Juventus rode their luck at times against Fiorentina, and then just when it looked like this clash was headed back to Turin on level terms, there was a particularly vicious sting in the tail for the venomous hosts who had poured everything they had in attacks, both on and off the pitch.
A late own goal means the Bianconeri have the upper hand in the Coppa Italia semi-final, though the second leg of this tie will only be played in six weeks so it might as well be forgotten about for the moment.
Speaking after the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri credited the Viola.
“We have to congratulate Fiorentina on a good performance. We suffered with two counter-attacks in the first half, again in the second, and fortunately we didn’t concede because they made mistakes.
“The team then held out well, we ran very few risks and we had some favourable situations where we should’ve played a better final ball, then Cuadrado went for goal rather than the pass and we could’ve scored there.”
Allegri had some positive comments especially for a couple of players on the right.
“Winning in Florence is not easy, the team showed maturity, because this is a difficult match, we were missing a lot of players and Marley Ake worked hard.
“Danilo showed he is truly an extraordinary player of the highest level.”
The coach paced the touchline furiously for most of the game, gesturing and yelling angrily at his own players.
“Defensively, we did well, because apart from those counter-attacks, we allowed very little. We made mistakes with the final ball, Cuadrado made up for that earlier mistake by putting the ball into the box at the end and that created the goal.
“It was a good performance from everyone, we are down to the bare bones at the moment. Fortunately, Dybala, Bernardeschi and Rugani will be back tomorrow and we’ll have a few fresh legs.”
Midfielder Arthur has slowly worked himself back into the reckoning after looking like he was headed out of the club during the January transfer window.
“Arthur was out for the first part of the season, he has quality, but needs to give the ball away a bit quicker. He is so comfortable on the ball that he relaxes a little too much.
“I liked the way we were organised today and only ran risks on counter-attacks. We knew Fiorentina liked to overlap on the flanks and put crosses in, so there wouldn’t be a threat through the centre. We should’ve kept the ball in their half more, but I saw progress.”
Striker Dusan Vlahovic received a testy welcome back to the Franchi, how did Allegri think he handled the physical and mental challenges?
“Vlahovic is very good at playing with the team, we have more of a link now between the midfielders and forwards, so that too is progress. It’s important to move around and be more unpredictable, as the simplest and toughest thing in football is to avoid marking.”
Since the media cannot simply let it go, Allegri was again asked if he really thought Juve were out of the reckoning for the Scudetto.
“Absolutely convinced. The Scudetto will be 84-85 points, definitely. We’d have to win them all, which is very tough, but I think with the fixture list at least one of those three teams can reach 84 points. Ask them how many points they need for the Scudetto, not me!”